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Intellectual Property Interest & Arrangements

Creating, disclosing, and commercializing intellectual property requires sound decision-making at every stage in its life cycle and any misstep can result in a loss of rights. The people, locations, and key partners involved all have a potential impact on a variety of issues, from securing and maintaining ownership rights to generating national security risks and royalties. Intellectual property assets such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and rights of publicity (name, image, and likeness) are capable of growing new and old businesses, alike, throughout the world.

Outside activities involving University employee or researcher intellectual property rights are often tied to financial interests and may become a conflict if these rights are exchanged, licensed, sold or otherwise disposed. These situations may involve startup creation, equity interest, or other arrangements that may or may not generate income. Additionally, University employees and researchers should also be aware of potential theft, inadvertent disclosures, security breaches, premature publication, and other potential losses of intellectual property rights. These events may occur whether traveling abroad or hosting a visitor at the University and may trigger export control laws.

Examples of when intellectual property interests may create a conflict:

  • Grants of equity interests to an individual that provide disproportionate compensation relative to the services provided or an objective valuation of potential royalties.
  • An outside licensing arrangement for research that may compete with the University for grant funding.
  • Receiving outside royalties or other licensing proceeds from intellectual property an individual helped invent and are evaluating or further developing at the University.

Examples of when intellectual property interests may not create a conflict:

  • Intellectual property rights assigned to the University and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights with UTRF.
  • University purchase of textbooks, stage plays, and other copyrighted literary property for which the employee receives royalties from a distributor in which the employee does not own a controlling interest. If faculty receive royalties on materials used in their courses, additional steps are necessary. If the class is at the 100-200 level, a department committee should approve the text. If the class is at the 300-600, text use is at the discretion of the instructor.